Ground Zero Mosque: Rights vs. Right

The controversial plan to build a mosque near Ground Zero in New York City has been simmering under the surface for some time, but it finally boiled over this week. The Cordoba Initiative is the organization planning to build a 15-story Muslim "cultural center," now called Park51, just two blocks1 from the hole in the ground that was the World Trade Center ... a hole in the ground created by terrorists who murdered 3,000 Americans in the name of Islam. And some "tolerant" leftists wonder why so many Americans are upset. Barack Obama couldn't help but step into the fray. "Let me be clear," he began, "As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances." The president certainly has a keen sense of the obvious.

Of course they have the right to practice their religion and even build their mosque wherever appropriate. No serious critic is suggesting otherwise. What we are saying is that such mosques are symbols of Muslim military triumph and that this one is a slap in the face of every American -- particularly those who lost loved ones on 9/112.

As Peter Kirsanow3 of National Review writes, "[U]nlike the president, when his fellow Americans think of the construction of a mosque on Ground Zero, their view doesn't begin and end with the First Amendment and local zoning ordinances. Rather, their view is of images that the mainstream media has done their best to airbrush out of our collective consciousness: Americans leaping out of windows and plunging -- seemingly interminably -- to their deaths to avoid incineration; first responders pulling charred remains from the smoking rubble of the collapsed towers; New Yorkers searching frantically for evidence that loved ones escaped the horror."

Obama's statement was also taken as endorsement of the project. However, when that didn't poll well, he was forced to backtrack. "I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making a decision to put a mosque there," he later waffled. Perhaps such comment is above his pay grade.

Meanwhile, the mosque's imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, told "60 Minutes" on Sept. 30, 2001, "I wouldn't say that the United States deserved what happened [on 9/11], but United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened." That would be the same view held by Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright, who thundered, "America's chickens are coming home to roost." Is it that much of a leap of logic to conclude it's Obama's view too?

For her part, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wants critics investigated. "[T]here is no question there is a concerted effort to make this a political issue by some," she complained. "I join those who have called for looking into how is this opposition to the mosque being funded. How is this being ginned up...?" To a leftist who obviously feels little love for America, of course opposition is "being ginned up."

The Cordoba Initiative says the project is about "peace and healing." If that's the case, the "center" should be interfaith and renamed. Spain's Cordoba Caliphate was an era Muslims consider especially glorious for Islam. Furthermore, lead developer Sharif El-Gamal says the proximity to Ground Zero is not an issue. Has he looked at the news lately? As they say in real estate, "location, location, location." Indeed, that's the reason that while he may have a right to build the mosque, it's not the right thing to do.